A 'Price One Penny' Edition

September 13, 1845

Up: The Mysteries of the Inquisition. Previous: September 6, 1845 Next: September 20, 1845

The Last Day of Dissimulation

That evening Joseph was alone in his own room. Seated at a table covered with religious books, he made certain computations upon a sheet of paper, referring for the various amounts, which constituted the items of his reckoning, to a number of bills of exchange which he had obtained, in return for other property, from a Jewish banker.

That was the fortune of the young monk.

“Well,” he said, with an air of satisfaction, as he thought his calculations to an end, “this can be conveyed whithersoever the possessor chooses; and those poor young persons will have ample means of existence.”

Then he replaced the bills of exchange with great care in a pocket-book of red satin, together with a letter which he had written, a gold ring which he took from his finger, and a lock of his hair!

Yes—his hair; for the hair of Joseph was soft, silky, and beautiful—rather resembling that of a female than of a man, and with only a small round spot shaven away upon the crown, in order to denote his ecclesiastical avocation.

He secured the pocket-book by means of a green silken thread, the knot of which he sealed with wax of a similar colour.

This being done, he placed the treasure in a pocket beneath his gown.

He then took a small piece of paper, whereon he wrote these words in Latin:—

“You will be tried to-morrow; but your arrest has not been communicated to the Supreme Council. Avail yourself of that technical informality: the Holy Office will be compelled to pronounce your acquittal.”

“This,” he said to himself, “must be forwarded to John of Avila to-morrow—before the sitting of the tribunal.”

And he slipped the paper into the sleeve of his tunic.

“Now,” he continued, in a musing strain, “my task grows to an end. A few hours more must I support this heavy chain of dissimulation and deceit! a few hours more, and my vengeance will be accomplished! Have I not up to this point fulfilled my self-imposed labours with courage? Have I not complacently encouraged in his passions and his crimes the monster who decimates Andalusia? Have I not surrounded his name with a light of infamy—a sanguinary banner which invokes unto him all hatreds and all maledictions? Have I not gently hollowed out, with my feeble hands, the abyss which is to swallow him up? O, Inquisition! have I not succeeded in rendering thee so abhorrent, so odious in the person of the most criminal of thy members, that Spain, rising like one man at the signal which I shall give, will for over overthrow that insatiable Colossus? At all events it will be mine to hurl down the corner-stone of that edifice of death:—let Spain follow me, if it have the courage!”

Then, bowing his head between his two hands in an attitude of ineffable anguish, he continued thus:—

“O God! what fatigue—what mental pain! when will repose come? What a terrible day has this been! Oh! those cries of agony—those flames! They pursue me every where: every where do I behold livid images, and pale spectres! Every where do I see him—whom I loved—him, who for so many years has summoned me without ceasing! ‘Come! come!’ dost thou say? Yes—I come—I come! Fernand, I come! Oh! the dead participate perhaps in the eternal clemency of God, and in nought save forgiveness. Am I then criminal—I who avenge my injuries? No—no,” he continued, rising, with feverish excitement—“I obey the voice of God—I am only an instrument of his divine justice! Wait—wait, thou that callest me: the day is near at hand—thou shalt not be delayed much longer!”

But that severe countenance, every muscle of which was imprinted with a suffering or a thought, suddenly lighted up. That proud countenance, which appeared to be the living personification of the eternal anger for the wicked, became, as if by magic, soft and smiling; the ample forehead, with brows ere now contracted, became expansive and open like a white sail in the wind, and the beautiful mouth of the young monk grew ready to deceive the deceiver once more!

Some one had suddenly knocked at his door.

He opened it. It was Peter Arbuez who sought admittance.

“Joseph,” he said “have been unfortunate yesterday and to-day.”

“I grieve to hear you say this my lord,” said the favourite.

“Oh! I know that you are the only faithful person whom I have about me—the only one who has never shown hostility to my whims and wishes—the only one who has served me without interested motives. Yesterday Don Manuel and Dolorez escaped my vengeance: to-day the King seemed cool towards me. Perhaps he did not like the Auto-da-fe; and yet it was truly royal! What treachery surrounds me! else how could Don Manuel have been rescued? How could Dolorez have escaped? Those whom I serve only flatter and fawn upon me through selfish motives. Henriquez, whom I made governor of Seville—others whom I have made bishops, priests and chaplains,—all, all count me only for the gold which I give them, the rank I obtain for them, or the pleasures which I ensure them.”

“My lord, calm yourself,” said Joseph.

“By Satan! I will send to the galleys all the gaolers of the Inquisition, who allowed Dolorez to escape. I will throw into prison all those vile guards who allowed Argoso to be released. And I will burn all those fawning flatterers who serve me but through interest—those portly bishops and fat priests, and that lacquey whom I made Governor of Seville.”

“You will do well,” observed Joseph.

“Am I not every where surrounded by traitors?” continued the Grand Inquisidor, growing excited, as he remembered the attempt that was made upon his own life: “a man was bold enough to aim a blow at the Grand Inquisidor of Seville: and that man was a familiar of the Inquisition! He denies it—but a woman denounced him—she saw him aim that blow!”

“I am aware of it,” said Joseph coldly.

“Without thee, excellent Joseph, I should have been killed; for I owe my life to that cuirass which I wear beneath my tunic, and which I have worn ever since that evening when you followed me into the prisons of the Inquisition, anticipating that some danger awaited me.”

“Was I wrong, my lord?”

“No! And yet I was angry with thee then—with thee, who wert my guardian angel.”

“Your lordship’s life is more precious than my own, and I have endeavoured to preserve it. Oh! yes—to me it is very precious,” continued Joseph with a strange smile. “But why does your Eminence condescend to feel annoyance in consequence of the escape of the late governor’s daughter? What matters one woman more or less to the mighty Lord Arbuez? What does a man who possesses millions care, if a doubloon more or less be found in his coffers? Believe me, my lord, your happiness or honour does not depend upon so trivial a circumstance! Those sensual ideas only render the proud and haughty soul effeminate. You reign by means of terror. Augment your power, then: are there not at Seville enough of heads to strike? That monk whom you arrested——”

“John of Avila!” ejaculated the Grand Inquisidor; “Oh! he shall rot in the dungeons of the Holy Office.”

“Your lordship would not act wisely,” resumed Joseph. “That man has preached doctrines contrary to the Catholic faith: your Eminence must make an example of him, and assure the triumph of the religion which is your glory and your power! The Pope will thank you—the King will no longer look coolly upon you: both abominate the heresies of Luther. Let John of Avila appear in a solemn manner before your tribunal: let all who choose be present; and in the face of Seville prove by condemning him, that he whom Andalusia calls its apostle, is naught else than a miserable apostate and a dangerous heretic.”

While Joseph was thus speaking, the countenance of the Grand Inquisidor expressed in an energetic manner the various thoughts which agitated him. Brought back to the grand passion of his life— dominion—Peter Arbuez listened with complaisance to that demon-tempter whose countenance was that of an Archangel; and the mighty Lord Arbuez became, under the influence of subtle and skilfully-administered flattery, docile and pliant to all the wishes of Joseph the favourite.

“Yes, you are right,” exclaimed the Grand Inquisidor: “too often do I forget my true mission upon earth: I allow myself too readily to be carried away by the torrent of my sensual passions and devouring desires. Thou—thou, Joseph, art very happy: for thou art calm and subdued like a young virgin;—or rather thou rulest thy passions by the force of thy will. Thou art the only one amongst us against whom there is no reproach of weakness.”

“My lord, in order to rule others, one must know how to rule one’s self. The most difficult enemy to conquer is our own soul! You will only be really powerful when, knowing how to subdue a passion or a caprice, you can submit yourself to the exigencies of your high position.”

“Is it really thou who now speakest, Joseph—thou who hast so often served my caprices and whims, as thou hast denominated them?”

“Whenever those weaknesses wrought no injury to the interests of your Eminence—but not else; and now I cannot encourage that foolish adoration of your lordship for that girl who is not more beautiful than another—I mean Donna Dolorez. The people are discontented; and you will only excite their evil feeling by attempting to recover two fugitives who have partizans amongst the populace. Leave Don Manuel and his daughter in peace—reck not what becomes of them. Perhaps even now,” added Joseph, with a bitter smile—for he knew the truth of the supposition- “perhaps even now Don Manuel may be no more—he was so weak and feeble! Flatter the Pope and the King in a word, my lord, be a spiritual sovereign, and not the slave of a mere woman.”

“Joseph,” said Peter Arbuez, “were I monarch, I would make thee my prime minister.”

“The minister would be the first and most faithful slave of your Majesty,” answered the favourite.

“Well,” exclaimed the Grand Inquisidor, enthusiastically, “let me follow your advice. I will subdue these mad passions—these wild desires which govern me at times, as if I were a child. I will be a great spiritual sovereign—and thou shalt be my spiritual minister. A woman, indeed!—I will not make myself wretched for one weak woman who has escaped from my nets. What matters it whether her name be Dolorez or Paula——“

Joseph shuddered terribly.

“What matters it, I say,” continued Arbuez, who did not perceive the dread emotions which the mere mention of the name of Paula excited in the breast of his favourite.

“No woman is worthy of the permanent attention of your Eminence. You do well to consider her as a mere toy—a slave—a plaything. And to-morrow, my lord—to morrow, you must have this apostate monk, John of Avila, brought before you.”

“Yes—to-morrow: give thou the orders, that it may be done. Must I not defend the interests of Rome? and who are greater enemies to Rome than those miserable priests that set up as the friends and apostles of the people! Did not Jesus Christ say, ‘Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s, and unto God the things which are God’s’? 128 But the reformers say on the contrary, ‘Take away from the Pope the power which the Pope holds from God.’ No—no; they shall not succeed in overthrowing the pulpit of Saint Peter: the church will vindicate its own rights. Ten monks like this John of Avila would raise all Spain and banish the Inquisition.”

“Your Eminence is wearied,” said Joseph; “you require repose after this day’s fatigue.”

“And you also, my poor Joseph,” exclaimed Peter Arbuez—“you must be wearied also. Good night: I shall go and pray that the Holy Spirit enlighten and support me.”

The Grand Inquisidor rose.

The favourite accompanied him as far as the outer door of his apartment.

“My lord,” said Joseph, “I solicit permission of your Eminence to retire for three days to my convent.”

“Be it so, Joseph: I understand—you need tranquility and rest, after those two fatiguing days. But only three days, remember: I cannot do without you! On Sunday I have to preach in the Cathedral: wilt thou be there at that time?”

“I will, my lord.”

“Then adieu till Sunday, Joseph.”

“Adieu till Sunday, my lord.”

“Be exact to that appointment.”

“Oh! fear not, my lord—I am certain not to fail.”

The Grand Inquisidor withdrew; and Joseph threw himself into an arm-chair, exclaiming, “It is over at length: this is the last day of dissimulation!”

A Priest According to the Gospel

Let us return to that terrible tribunal where we have already seen so many victims appear. But on this occasion it is not a beautiful woman—nor a noble Count, whom the tribunal has to judge: it is a humble monk—John of Avila.

But let us retrospect for a few hours.

After taking leave of Peter Arbuez, Joseph had sallied forth and proceeded to the tavern in Gipsies’ Alley. There he was closeted for a long time with Joachim, the alguazil; and important were the events confided by the former to the latter.

This conference lasted an hour.

Joachim then proceeded to the Inquisition, and showed the principal turnkey an order signed by Joseph, and bearing the inquisitorial seal, to allow him to pass into the cell of John of Avila.

The order was promptly obeyed; and Joachim presented to the apostle the Latin letter which Joseph had written to him. Having passed half an hour in the dungeon, Joachim repaired to the dwelling of the President of the Supreme Council, to whom he delivered a note which the Apostle had just penned in accordance with the hint conveyed to him by Joseph.

In the meantime, Joseph himself had directed his steps towards the Garduna; but we must now resume our narrative at the point recorded at the commencement of this chapter.

The Judgment Hall of the Inquisition presented the same lugubrious appearance as on other occasions; save that the portion allotted to visitors was now crowded with persons of both sexes and all classes, the rumour being circulated from an early hour that the people would be admitted as a great favour.

Thus had the counsels of Joseph been altogether followed by Peter Arbuez.

When he took his seat upon the presidential throne, Peter Arbuez was excited by emotions of triumph and satisfaction; for he thought that if he had lost Don Manuel Argoso and Donna Dolorez, he had at least John of Avila in his power.

Presently the accused appeared.

His countenance without being proud or haughty, was endowed with an expression of infinite majesty; and a holy calmness reigned on his features, which imprisonment had not changed.

Peter Arbuez was unable to sustain the calm look of that true pastor of Christ’s flock—that righteous minister of the gospel.

“Rise, brother, and answer me,” said the Grand Inquisidor, not forgetting his part of feigned humility.

John of Avila rose from the rude stool whereon he had seated himself at his first entry into the tribunal.

“Brother,” said the Grand Inquisidor, “our zeal in the service of God does not make us unmindful that you are one of his ministers, and that you wear the sacred robe of the Levite;129 but on that very account our responsibility is the greater, and we cannot tolerate in you the least thing which tends to alienate the people from the right way.”

“I have ever taught them the right way,” answered John of Avila, mildly. “The code of virtue is the Gospel—and it is the Gospel which I have preached.”

“But certain councils have made additions to that code,” said the Grand Inquisidor. “The Church of Christ possesses the undoubted right to continue the work commenced by its Divine Master.”

John of Avila remained silent: the Inquisidor had hoped for an answer; but he was deceived in the hope of ensnaring him by means of his own words.

He continued thus:—

“Brother, charged with a holy mission, wherefore do you endeavour to lead astray the sheep that are confided to thee, by propagating the doctrines of the innovators? Do you not know that you have been guilty of treason towards the Catholic faith?”

“Is that the ground of accusation against me?” demanded John of Avila.

“That is your crime, brother—or rather your error,” added Peter Arbuez, with a feigned moderation.

The Inquisidor paused once more but again was John of Avila silent.

“You have stated in the pulpit,” said Peter Arbuez, “that God is equally good to all, and that he sheds his bounties upon the just and the sinner!”

“It is not I who said that—but Jesus Christ himself, who not only proved it by his words, but by his actions.”

“Jesus Christ anathematized heretics,” said Peter Arbuez.

“Jesus Christ never anathematized at all.” replied John of Avila; “he only accused hypocrites who concealed their vices beneath the garb of devotion. But true penitents were received by him with kindness, and encouragement, and pardon.”

The audience listened with profound attention: the Apostle’s voice was powerful indeed, when preaching his sublime moral.

“Brother,” said Peter Arbuez, “it is not only by your words that you have propagated heresy, but you have also attached yourself to persons stigmatized or denounced by the Holy Office.”

“I am the friend of all who suffer.”

“And you associate with beggars, gipsies, Moors, Jews—with the refuse of society, in a word.”

“My lord, those races are persecuted and unhappy—they need my consolation—the others do not.”

A long murmur of impassioned admiration welcomed these simple but touching words—words which delineated the soul, and painted the life of John of Avila.

The Grand Inquisidor perceived that it would be difficult for him to condemn the Apostle in the presence of the people of Seville. Still he was determined to entangle him in some heretical confession, if possible, and thus justify a remand to the Inquisitorial prison.

“Brother,” said Peter Arbuez, “it is a sad thing for me to accuse a minister who, up to this moment, has appeared in the shape of a friend to the people, whereas he is in reality their greatest enemy, insomuch as he leads them into the paths of error.”

“My lord, I have never preached error,” said John of Avila, firmly but calmly; “I have not strayed from the Bible in search of doctrines, nor in search of morals. I have advocated measures of gentleness and mercy, and I have never countenanced coercion and persecution.”

“He blasphemes!” ejaculated Peter Arbuez; “he alludes to the Inquisition!—a priest dares thus to insult the Holy Office?”

The spectators were paralysed—they now fully comprehended the perils which surrounded their adored Apostle.

“I have never done aught to deserve coercion and persecution myself,” said the Apostle.

“Brother, you are in the ways of heresy and error. Have you any witnesses to disprove the allegations made against you?”

At these words—in spite of the terror which every one experienced with regard to the Inquisition—a dozen persons rushed towards the witness-box, ready to testify in favour of John of Avila.

“Order!” ejaculated the Grand Inquisidor, enraged at this exhibition.

“He is innocent!” cried numerous voices.

“He gave us bread when we were hungry.”

“He consoled us when we wept.”

“He appeased our differences, and brought peace into our families.”

“He instructed our children.”

“He is the glory and happiness of Andalusia.”

“Disperse that noisy rabble!” ejaculated the Grand Inquisidor; “and convey the accused back to prison.”

“Calm yourselves, my friends,” said John of Avila, towards whom the crowd now rushed; “God will do me justice!”

At that moment the door of the tribunal was thrown open, and a sbire exclaimed—“Room! room for my lord the President of the Supreme Council!”

The Grand Inquisidor turned pale; the guards presented their arms; the people fell back with profound respect.

The Lord President, followed by his councillors, advanced into the middle of the tribunal. The moment his eyes fell upon the Apostle, he exclaimed, “Deliver that holy man!”

The chains fell from the limbs of John of Avila as if by enchantment.

“My lord!” said Peter Arbuez.

“By what right have you brought this man to trial?” demanded the President. “You have not even deigned to communicate his arrest to the Council. Do you know that I have the power to remove you from your lofty seat, and degrade you from your high estate, for this neglect?”

“It is true,” murmured the Grand Inquisidor.

“But this time I consent to overlook your fault,” continued the President. “The King and the Council are willing that the law should proceed against heretics; but we insist that the minutest forms be complied with. John of Avila,” said the President, turning towards the Apostle, “You are free!”

“Long live the Supreme Council!” ejaculated the people; and cries of enthusiasm welcomed the release of John of Avila.

Peter Arbuez rushed from the judgment-hall, rage in his heart—vengeance in his eyes—malediction upon his lips!

And the people transported the Apostle in triumph to his humble abode on the banks of the Guadalquivir.

Render unto Cæsar ... which are God’s Matthew 22:21. The French text only quotes the part about Cesar.
sacred robe of the Levite The Hebrew tribe of Levi held religious offices for the Israelites.
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